Sunday, May 9, 2010


Secret Blackwater Tape Exposed
Jeremy Scahill - The Nation - May 3, 2010

Erik Prince, the reclusive owner of the Blackwater empire, rarely gives public speeches and when he does journalists are banned from attending; recording or videotaping of his remarks is verboten.

Despite these attempts to shield himself from public scrutiny, The Nation magazine obtained an audio recording of one of Prince's recent speech delivered in a private venue to a friendly audience. The speech provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater.

In earlier posts, I have insisted that private contractors operating within narrow constraints as security personnel are NOT mercenaries per se. In this post there is no fig leaf - we're talking private contractors deployed in full-mission profile; defensive AND offensive operations; employed as snipers, conducting raids and ambushes, the whole enchilada.

Prince proposes armed private soldiers (like Blackwater contractors) be deployed throughout the sand countries to counter Iranian influence and Iranian-supported insurgents, specifically in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. There's a lot to be said for this approach.

He expresses disdain for the Geneva Convention and describes Blackwater's secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases (FOB's) he controls in Afghanistan. He called those fighting the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan "barbarians" who "crawled out of the sewer."

Despite the disparaging things I said about Blackwater in the past - and I meant every word I said - I find myself agreeing with Prince here. The United States has employed private armies in every war we've fought, dating right back to the Revolution; they have a role, albeit a specialized one.

As far as the Geneva Convention goes - has it ever occurred to anybody that we are the only ones who abide by this anachronism? And even we don't go by it all the time; if we had lost World War II, Winston Churchill and President Truman would have been sitting in the dock for all those cities we vaporized.

Wars are won by doing what needs being done. In the former Yugoslavia I observed (Allied) Special Forces soldiers operating in civilian clothes, passing themselves off as journalists. By the time I retired I'd been operating in and out of uniform for about half of my career, and I made it all the way to Belgrade.

"War is simple, direct and ruthless." - General Patton's Maxims.

I'm not suggesting we lower ourselves to the degree of savagery displayed by our enemies on a daily basis, but think about it for a minute - if the Post Office could accomplish it's mission, UPS and FedEx wouldn't be able to survive as commercial enterprises. Why should we constrain ourselves in warfighting?

Once we decide to win this Hundred Years War we are currently fighting, necessity will dictate our conduct. To prevail against irregular insurgents and terrorists, we need irregular, unconventional counter-insurgents and counter-terror soldiers, and we should be open-minded and imaginative when the rule book gets in the way.



  1. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

    Patton said:
    "We can never get anything across unless we talk the language of the people we are trying to instruct."

    I think he also said "Winners write the history books".

  2. I would be all for it, if there was a way to keep these shadow warriors from operating against American citizens in CONTUS.

    Since we both know that our current leaders will do or say anything to stay in power, it would be all to easy to let Xe types run amuck and put down any resistance among citizens without messy arrests, trials, or camps. Death squads at there finest. Let's not get into the fact that for every serviceman who would never lift a finger against American civilians in a Constitutional revolt, there is a Merc who will have no problem doing an tyrants work for a paycheck. It has happened throughout history, and it could happen here under certain conditions. Conditions I pray never come to pass...

  3. To quote an recent acquaintance of mine who wrote a great book on how those cities got vaporized. I asked his permission and he said to feel free to quote him on this, as appropriate, because I think he said it about as well as anyone.

    "Let us step back for a moment and look at the larger picture. The question is should people die in wartime. Who should die and how? Does the “enemy” deserve to die? If only combatants, then what about the civilians who provide these combatants with everything they use to conduct war itself? How about the people in control who prosecute war? Should they also be subject to death? Are there ever really any “rules” of war? Is there a particularly nice, painless way to die in war?" --John Coster-Mullen

    Another more telling quote, from his book, was related to interviews with German and Japanese Nuclear Scientists after the war when they were asked if they would have used nuclear weapons if they had developed them first. They were puzzled and said "Why wouldn't we?"

    War is about killing people and breaking stuff until one side or the other cries calf-rope and there isn't much gentlemanly about it if you aim to win.

    All of the Geneva Conventions (there were more than one, ya know, they amended things along the way) have always been a JOKE. Germans and Russians used HP rifle ammo against each other. There actually was a bit of an issue with that when they transferred soldiers from the East to the West, as the Germans were required to give up all their HP and SP ammo before fighting Western Nations, no joke.

    The only joke is the Geneva Convention.